I Found Him — When Someone You Know Dies from Suicide…and You Are the One Who Finds Them (Part 2)

SONY DSCWhen you are the one who has lost someone to suicide, whether you had been the one to find them or not, the emotions are huge.  The memories haunt.  The loss is beyond what you could have imagined. If you found someone dead, the images are etched in your mind. They are painful. I am sorry. I understand because I know. Take time to let all of this roll around and be processed. For many, if not most, in this situation, getting counseling is so very important. Going as often as you need to go is really quite okay.

If your mind is filled with the image of suicide, get sweet pictures of this person and look upon them. Place them around the house…around you. Think about him or her when they were alive. Remember things you did together, words shared, special moments. Fill your mind with those images. Talk about his or her life with others who care about you. Celebrating his or her life will help tremendously to change what is imprinted upon your mind from that day. These are ways to work through the pain and begin to replace the images of finding one with happy images. This is not a process that is over in a year or even five. It seems to be ongoing but is less and less over the years. God wants your mind and heart filled with Him.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Remember:

  •     You may feel strong anger. That, too, is normal.
  •     You probably feel numb and have difficulty concentrating. Again that is normal.
  •     Be gentle with yourself.
  •     Give yourself time.  Please take care of yourself, and take your healing one step at a time.
  •     And remember that you are a special person.

I journaled in order to express how I felt.  I wondered often what I could have done to prevent this suicide.  I read books on suicide and found that I probably could not have prevented it and should not blame myself, nor feel guilty.

Other things I have found that helped me along this unbeaten path were:

  •    Understand that everyone grieves differently.  You may read about “the stages of grief,” but each person goes through them in their own way.  Your way is the best way for you.
  •    You may deny what happened. Understand that almost everyone does that. It is a normal part of the healing process that you are going through.
  •    Also, unfortunately, there still is a stigma that exists around suicide. Most people do not understand what you are going through. Their words may blame you or are harsh about the one who is dead now. It does not seem fair nor make sense to those left behind.  But stigmas with the word “suicide” do exist.
  •    And please keep in mind that you can decide not to answer any questions that others may ask you. If someone wants to know how your loved one died, you can say that you do not want to talk about it. It is up to you.  No explanation is necessary.  Some people may even ask, “Why did he do that?”  “What could you have done?”…questions that you do not need nor can you even answer.  Giving those questions no answer, or “I don’t know,” or “Please do not ask me this,” may be your best way to handle the insensitivity.
  •    Yes, people can be insensitive. People can be rude. People can be intrusive.  You decide who you want to talk to, when you want to talk to them, for how long you want to talk to them, and about what.

Through Jim’s art, I met the wonderful man to whom I am married to…22 years now.  I had a display of Jim’s paintings scheduled to be on our main library’s mezzanine.  Ken was the Art Center’s volunteer to hang those displays.  We met and that is a whole story unto itself, but God worked through tragedy, bringing beauty from the ashes.

“To console those who mourn in Zion,

To give them beauty for ashes,

The oil of joy for mourning,

The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;

That they may be called trees of righteousness,

The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61: 3

Amidst the grief, Kenneth and his dear mother introduced me to Jesus.  I read the Bible, studying it as voraciously as I could.  I talked to Kenneth about suicide and Jim.  He spoke and read verses to me…God’s Truth.  He placed me in the hands of Jesus to teach me all He could to help me know that Jesus is the answer.  I called upon the Name of the LORD and He answered me.  He guided me.  He holds my heart when I think about Jim.  I am sorry he did what he did and that he went through pure and certain agony to reach that place.  But Jesus gave me new life and continuously affirms the beauty of our relationship.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11

He wants me whole as I grow to be more and more like Him.  He wants that whole Linda to become holy as He is Holy.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

Father, You have saved me from myself and given me a new self in rebirth.  Father, if one is reading this post and has been through the loss of someone they have loved or cared about through the act of a suicide, I pray that Your tender mercies rain upon them and come to reign in their hearts.  I pray that You hold them near.  If they do not know Jesus as their LORD and Savior, I pray that they will seek Your face. Father God, may we each and all know that Your care for us is steadfast.  You hide us in the cleft of the Rock, protecting us, providing for us, and comforting us. Should there be one reading this post who has thought about suicide, I pray for Your saving grace to rain upon them and reign in their hearts.  I pray that they look to You, Jesus, focusing their eyes upon You for You will not lead them astray.  Only satan would do that.  May they rest on Bible verses that touch their hearts. Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 … Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time?  Ecclesiastes 7:17   May Your Word stand strong before them and fill them with Your Truth.  May we trust in You and only You.  In the Strong Name of Jesus, I lift these precious sisters and brothers to You as well as myself.  You are the Holy One. Amen.

Resource: http://www.suicide.org/suicide-survivors-forum.html

 

 

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I Found Him — When Someone You Know Dies from Suicide…and You Are the One Who Finds Them (Part 1)

SONY DSCI write this from the perspective of the one who found a dear friend after he had killed himself…suicide.

How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.  Psalm 13:2-4

This man, Jim, was 46 and decided that life had no meaning any longer, I presume. I will never really know…just a heart-felt and honest guess.  He was an artist, but had a hard time making a living from his beautiful airbrushed paintings. He was a machinist by trade.  He had some tough relationships over his all-too-short life.  He had been sober for almost 8 years, had quit smoking for 2 years.  He came from a family of drinking. His mother died of cancer. His only sibling was a brother who chose to separate himself from my friend as well as his parents because he had chosen not to drink.

As a friend, I cared about Jim like a sister would care about her only brother.  We were both searching for Jesus at the time we met.  We did not know that, but we were.  We searched in many-a-dark corner, but continued looking.  I never knew him during his drinking years so my perspective is a bit skewed from others who knew him earlier in his life.  As an artist, a weaver, myself, we began doing shows together to try to make a living being artists when I moved into this same city.  Neither one of us made enough to pay for doing what we loved, but we tried for a while.

I finally found full-time work for I needed a steady income.  Jim continued to paint and even went to New Mexico for six months to gain a different perspective while continuing to paint.  Eventually, he moved back here and then had a hard time finding a machinist job.  Things were not going as he had hoped.

I came home from work one day and found an envelope in the mail slot of my door.  It was from Jim.  He had placed his car title, some cash, and a short note of some silly words that meant something to only me, words we had shared. My heart sank, although I could not really know by the note what I was about to face, and yet, I had an idea. I quickly got in the car and raced over to his house. I let myself in only to find the same note there on the table by the door, along with a note to emergency staff should they have found him before I did. I knew now. I tiptoed through the house until I found him. He had killed himself in a manner that did not leave blood and gore for me to find, but he still killed himself. I still found him. That was 23 years ago. As I type this, it seems like yesterday.

Earlier, I said that Jim and I were searching for Jesus. I never knew if he found Him, but he had a Bible with some verses in the New Testament underlined. He had been reading. He had been looking and, hopefully, had found the One and Only LORD and Savior. I will know him in Heaven should he be there. I pray so.

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13

Suicide is a terrible thing. Having never been around it up close and personal, I could not have imagined that I would have to deal with one in such a way: police interrogation of me to make sure that I had not killed him (which was such an awful experience and is a vivid memory, even today), neighbors wanting to know why all the police, ambulances, and medical examiner were at the house for over two hours, the remnants of his life in a house that I would inherit because he made a will and left his world to me. I had very few other contacts here except through work, so with friends caring about me from afar, the phone calls were long and tear-filled.

There was so much…so very much to deal with, to handle.

I returned to work and took comfort in the busy-ness of that. I sought counsel through a “suicide-survivor group.” I attended only a few times as I just did not seem to need to tell the same story each week to any newcomer. There were people there who had lost a loved one fifteen and twenty years prior. I knew they were there for their own reasons, but I needed the tender love and comfort from my mother, my sisters and friends in other states, and so it was hard being in one state when my comfort was elsewhere. Within a short time, a cousin came from Chicago and stayed for a few days. Then, my dear mother came and stayed for about three or four weeks to help me clean and ready the house so that I could move in within a few weeks. My mother was the best person for me at that time. I needed people I loved and trusted.

Surround yourself with people who understand. Who care. Who are sensitive. And who will support you. Reach out to those people. Never feel like you are a burden to them because you are not.

My boss loaned me the money for the cremation. She honored me by asking if she could help financially in any way. I had no savings and Jim left me what little he had which was not enough to bury him.

When you are the one who has lost someone to suicide, whether you had been the one to find them or not, the emotions are huge.  The memories haunt.  The loss is beyond what you could have imagined.

Please join me for Part 2 to read how I began to heal from this experience, how Jesus met me in my pain, and for some practical advice on how you can recover from a trauma such as this one.

Part 2 will be posted Friday, 8/14/2015.

 

 

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Photo: Sony:DSC

Wisdom From Above

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James 3:17

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.  NKJV

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  NIV

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.  ESV

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.  NASB

God, the wisdom that we need is only from You.  It is not the wisdom of man nor the world.  You gladly give us this gift, if we would only ask.  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5)  And, the treasures that describe Your wisdom, LORD…

pure:  μέν – me’n =  truly, certainly, surely, indeed; “…free from iniquity, studious of holiness both in heart and life.” (M. Henry)

peaceable: εἰρηνικός – eirēnikos = bring peace with it, peaceful, salutary; peace depends upon purity.  ” Those who are truly wise do what they can to preserve peace, that it may not be broken; and to make peace, that where it is lost it may be restored. In kingdoms, in families, in churches, in all societies, and in all interviews and transactions, heavenly wisdom makes men peaceable.”  (M. Henry)

gentle: ἐπιεικής – epieikēs = equitable, fair, mild, gentle, seeming, suitable.  “It is gentle, not standing upon extreme right in matters of property; not saying nor doing any thing rigorous in points of censure; not being furious about opinions, urging our own beyond their weight nor theirs who oppose us beyond their intention; not being rude and overbearing in conversation, nor harsh and cruel in temper. Gentleness may thus be opposed to all these.”  (M. Henry)

Father, I feel compassion in what Mr. Henry says here as it is the need to control, to be right, to act high and mighty that brings us down.  Help me to use Your wisdom when I talk to others. 

easy to be entreated: εὐπειθήςeupeithēs = easily obeying, compliant.  “…it is very persuadable, either to what is good or from what is evil.”  (M. Henry)

full of mercy: ἔλεοςeleos =  mercy: kindness or good will towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them/of men towards men: to exercise the virtue of mercy, show one’s self merciful.

good fruits: καρπόςkarpos =  that which originates or comes from something, an effect, result/work,act, deed.

Heavenly wisdom is full of mercy and good fruits, inwardly disposed to every thing that is kind and good, both to relieve those who want and to forgive those who offend, and actually to do this whenever proper occasions offer.”  (M. Henry)

without partiality: ἀδιάκριτοςadiakritos = without dubiousness, ambiguity or uncertainty. The original word, adiakritos, signifies to be without suspicion, or free from judging, making no undue surmises nor differences in our conduct towards one person more than another. The margin reads it, without wrangling, not acting the part of sectaries, and disputing merely for the sake of a party; nor censuring others purely on account of their differing from us. The wisest men are least apt to be censurers.”  (M. Henry)

without hypocrisy: ἀνυπόκριτος  – anypokritos = unfeigned, undisguised, sincere. It has no disguises nor deceits. It cannot fall in with those managements which the world counts wise, which are crafty and guileful; but it is sincere and open, steady and uniform, and consistent with itself.”  (M. Henry)

Father God, You will gladly give us this precious gift and when You do, may we use it as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:12: For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.

I pray that my mind and heart would stay close and tender towards Your teaching as I learn Your ways, O LORD. 

And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.  James 3:18

“And that which is sown in peace will produce a harvest of joys. Let others reap the fruits of contentions, and all the advantages they can propose to themselves by them; but let us go on peaceably to sow the seeds of righteousness, and we may depend upon it our labour will not be lost.  For light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart; and the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.”  (M. Henry)

Father, I pray that I would be still and ask for Your wisdom.  That I would allow Your Holy Spirit to bathe me in it and walk this world with the strength of Your wisdom in me through Your Holy Spirit.  May I be quiet and assured because I am close to You.  In the Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

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Photo:  The Fellowship Site

In His Arms

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Psalm 146:5-10

 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,

whose hope is in the Lord his God,

6 Who made heaven and earth,

the sea, and all that is in them,

Who keeps faith forever;

Who executes justice for the oppressed,

Who gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;

 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.

The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;

the Lord loves the righteous.

 The Lord watches over the sojourners;

He upholds the widow and the fatherless,

but the way of the wicked He brings to ruin.

10  The Lord will reign forever,

your God, O Zion, to all generations.

Praise the Lord!

The Lord is over all and the only One Who can supply all our needs, provide all the help that the world just cannot supply.  With so much going on in these days we are living in, I so wish that things would be better, that people would not be oppressed, hungry, killed.  I just want us to live in peace with everyone, with all nations.  But Jesus said:

And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.  Mark 13:7-8

…but while we live in these times, we are to remember Who is the only One Who saved us, can save us, and will come for us when the time is right.

Psalm 146:1-4

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord, O my soul!

I will praise the Lord as long as I live;

I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

 Put not your trust in princes,

in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.

When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;

on that very day his plans perish. 

Father God, I lift my hands to You and feel Your strong arms reach to me, this child of Yours.  You hold me closely and I am secure in You.  Father, why is there so much that feels so terribly wrong in this world?  Why is there starvation?  war? murder of innocents? fear of what others may do? chaos? kidnappings? … this list does not end, Father.  Why?  I am sad, Abba Father.  Just too much that is wrong.  But there is only one answer and that is the fall of man; evil came to live with us.  Oh, Father, Your strong arms remind me that one day, Jesus will come for us who have placed our trust in the One Who is Salvation, Who is the Holy One, and will bring us into His home where there will be no more tears nor pain. 

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”  Revelation 21:4

Father, I want to stay close and feel the comfort of Your love as I am wrapped in Your arms.  I thank You for the very salvation that Jesus brought to us so that one day we will be free from all that is of this world.  I have always been sad that You felt that You were sorry You ever made man back in the early times.    

So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:7)

I sense You feel that way today.  But You know the times for they are in Your hands.  Walk with me through the remaining days of my life.  I crawl into Your arms, my Abba Father, one of your lambs.  I thank You and love You so.  In the Strong Name of Jesus.  Amen.

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picture:  https://i.vimeocdn.com/video/120444797_640.jpg

Awe or Dread?

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When you look at this photo, if you were the one in red, would you be terrified or could you sit in awe at the incredible view?

The Lord is King forever and ever;

the nations perish from His land.

O Lord, You hear the desire of the afflicted;

You will strengthen their heart; You will incline Your ear

to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,

so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

Psalm 10:16-18

עָרַץ

`arats

[ä·rats’]

to awe

(intransitive) to dread; hence, to harass:— be afraid, dread, feared, terrified, break, dread, fear, oppress, prevail, shake terribly.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You shall not be in dread of them, for the LORD your God is in your midst, a great and awesome God.  Deuteronomy 7:21

For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD?
Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD, a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones,
and awesome above all who are around Him?  Psalm 89:6-7

“Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread.  But the LORD of hosts, Him you shall honor as holy. Let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.”  Isaiah 8:12-13

For when he sees his children,
the work of My hands, in his midst,
they will sanctify My name;
they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob
and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.  Isaiah 29:23

We can stand in awe of our God’s might or shiver in fright from the world’s terror.  Which shall we choose?

  • Dylann Storm Roof shot nine of our Christian brothers and sisters as they joined in fellowship and communion; even the armed gunman sat with them for over one hour in Bible study and prayer.
  • Dzhokhar Tsarnaev received a death sentence for killing 3 and maiming 264 at the Boston Marathon of 2013.
  • Islamic State, Taliban: car-bombs, kidnapping, killing, taking and retaking lands
  • Drug cartels
  • Armed and unarmed men killed by police
  • Boko Haram attacks, kidnappings
  • and on and on…

Can we pray for these instead of fearing them?

Can we look to our God in awe for Who He is, for all that He does?  He is the One Who enables us to hear from the afflicted, the oppressed, the poor, the elderly, and to be able to do something for orphans, the elderly, the oppressed.

And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.  And the idols he shall utterly abolish.  And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of His majesty, when He ariseth to shake terribly the earth.  In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats;  To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of His majesty, when He ariseth to shake terribly the earth.  Isaiah 2:17-21

Matthew Henry comments on Isaiah 2:20-12: “Let not your eye be to the power of man, for it is finite and limited, derived and depending; it is not from him that your judgment proceeds. Let not him be your fear, let not him be your hope; but look up to the power of God, to which all the powers of men are subject and subordinate; dread His wrath, secure His favour, take Him for your help, and let your hope be in the Lord your God.”

Father God, I pray that I would seek Your Holy face in all ways.  Your majesty and glory is above all and before all.  I want to see You.  I want to hear You.  I want to be obedient to You and not follow those who would lead me astray.  Father, You are my LORD and Savior.  You mean everything to me.  I thank You for saving me.  Should I ever be in a situation such as in the church in Charleston, may I be able to stand tall for You, not shrinking back from the love I have for You out of fear to man.  “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”  Ephesians 6:13  May I stand for those who need You, for those who are downtrodden, for those who are old and alone, for those who are fatherless, for those who are hungry or thirsty.  Father, there are so many who need You in untold ways.  Show me Your ways.  Father, I pray these words of Jude: Now to Him who is able to keep [me] from stumbling and to present [me] blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.  Amen.  Jude 1:24-25

That I may be in awe of You.   Amen and Amen.

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Caring for the Caregiver – Part 2

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One of the very first things a giver of care should think about doing for herself/himself is to find quiet … find the calm center of the storm, find peace in your mind and heart. Finding quiet is calming down, letting the mind focus on the Lord. Find a physical peaceful setting or find one in your mind. Get away to a quiet place even for an hour, go for a walk, sit-down for a time in the park or in a coffee shop, or soak in a hot bath. This usually means being alone for a time.

As we begin to quiet ourselves, we usually need to allow the voices, the day’s busy-ness, the stresses of the daily activity roll through our minds, our hearts, and then gradually let it slide away. When these things pop back up, let them go again. Rather than getting upset that we keep bringing the stresses back up, allow them there and then release them again, each time allowing it to remain for shorter periods. It will subside if we let it. Remember, these concerns, issues, words spoken, or words left unspoken, may be issues that have already been resolved, may be un-resolvable right now and need setting aside, or may not even be of our business! Listening and reviewing the day can allow us to step back, look at things from a different perspective, and take some or all of the emotion out of an issue. Then give these things to Jesus. He asks for them. “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

During the quiet, take time to look at your personal needs. You may be a parent. You may be homeschooling your children. You may hold a full or part-time job. You may have more than one person you are taking care of. You may be married, single, divorced, going through problems in relationship. All kinds of personal concerns surround us. So time may be of the essence and you may think, “I don’t have time for me, Linda. I cannot even begin to do any more and now you want me to take care of myself.” Well, yes, I do. And I know it well. (When I moved Mama here from California, I worked full-time, had been married only 5 years so still felt like a newlywed! Mama needed help in so many ways. Besides her regular medications, the doctor placed her on insulin within the first year here. Her dementia worsened and giving herself insulin became a problem as she would forget or think she had already given herself the shot. I was running over to her place (in a senior residence) twice a day taking her blood sugar and then giving her a shot. My workplace was 12 miles away. My hours were odd two days a week so I had to teach my husband how to do this too. Bless his heart … imagine talking to your mother-in-law and reminding her to take her blood sugar and then measuring the insulin and handing her the syringe? Not easy, I know! My mother was rather strong headed, too! But it had to be done, and we did it and much, much more!

Well, back to our needs. Time or not, we must find some for our care or we cannot care for others. What do you do for yourself? What do you need for yourself? Do you eat nutritionally? Is there a way to do that better? Are you able to exercise? Can you make time to take a class of aerobics, yoga, Pilates, walk regularly…the type that would make you feel better after it was over? You don’t need more stress and taking a class that you feel is a “should” will not be a help to you. Can you watch a video of yoga or stretching at home to help you relax some? Do you have time for family, for friends? How can you make quality time with the people you love and who love you and care about you? Are there hobbies that help you relax … reading, crocheting, quilting, baking, taking a Bible study? What do you enjoy … riding your bicycle, walking on the beach, visiting others, …? And the most important piece of this pie is to spend time with the LORD…sitting at His feet. You don’t have to talk with Him or do anything in particular. Just sit at His feet. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:39-42

Setting time for enjoyable, relaxing treats is so key to a caregiver’s well-being. Caring for another can zap all of your energy, leaving you lifeless. If we are good at caring for others then we surely must learn to care for ourselves. Begin by making an appointment with yourself, spending time writing down those things that are important to you for your well-being. Once a list is in print, prioritize them either by most important to least, or by the amount of time it takes to do each, or how often you would want to do each. Begin doing one thing on your list. Calendar things in daily, weekly, monthly … make it work for you. If you cannot do anything every day, then begin with weekly or every other day. Gradually, work the most important things into your world so you will feel better. And when you cannot do something, please, PLEASE, do not feel guilty. Guilt is the last thing you need.

You are important! YES! You are IMPORTANT! And caring for yourself is a part of caregiving for others that gets neglected far too easily. How can we be wholly there for others when we can barely be there for ourselves? Take time to begin. Just begin!

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.  Isaiah 43:2-3a

God tells His people that He will be with us as we walk through the fires of life.  Fires burn, but they also purify, refine.  Caregiving is not easy.  In fact, it is painfully difficult at times, and exhausting.  Yet, He is with us and will not let the fires consume us.  The waters will not drown us.
Father, hear our prayers. We need You and want You in these times of giving care to others. Father, You are our Shepherd and LORD.  Give us the abilities needed for the task. Fill our hearts with Your love so that we may care for those You love, for those who need help, who are unable to do for themselves any longer.  Father, guide us in ways to care for ourselves that we would be more able to be the caregiver whom You have called … able to be patient, loving, kind, gentle, and joyful too. May Your fruits of the Spirit shine through us in all that we are and do for others. Father, give us calm and peace, and may we be the Christ in the eyes of these precious ones of Yours.  In Jesus’ Name we pray and we love.  Amen.

 

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Caring for the Caregiver – Part 1

caringforcaregiver

Caregiver:  the definition of a giver of care is a family member or paid helper who regularly looks after a child, or a sick, elderly, or disabled person.  The description of a giver of care who works 24/7 can be joyful, weary, tired, delighted, exhausted, angry, frustrated, energetic, impatient, alienated, lonely, depressed, etc., etc., etc.! Does any of this fit you?

Let’s turn the tables and take a look at taking care of ourselves. This is a key component to caregiving.  A KEY!  The care of the caregiver is vital to the health and welfare of the one who receives the care.  If the caregiver is so rundown that she/he has no energy for the day’s work, she/he cannot give the necessary care in the manner in which it ought to be given. As caregivers, we are usually trying to understand the needs of the person we care for with a desire to do some of this precious care right so as not to confuse, frustrate, or further anger our charge. We desire their days to be pleasant. We also want to love them as they are, not as we wish they could or would be.

As a caregiver of 15 years, I ran the gamut of being extremely weary, unable to get a good night’s rest for ailments of my own, worried, confused about what to do, depressed, frustrated that my sisters lived so far away, coming only once a year (and then for just a little while, not long enough to help me out much or give me a real break), even upset with one sister because she accused me of something that our mother believed about me–this sister chose to believe a dementia-laden lie versus the truth.  I became impatient with Mama, too, for things she could not help.  I felt alienated from “friends” or lonely because of this separateness.  I wondered if I was being a good enough wife while trying to be a good enough caregiver and daughter too.  AAAHHH!  Do you know these feeling, these thoughts?

Pondering such thoughts and feelings made me realize that I was disconnected, exasperated, less than healthy, just plain worn out.  One doctor of mine even asked me if I was “depressed.”  He had been in my shoes by caring for his father and saw signs in me, a long time patient of his for fibromyalgia.  Yet I needed to face myself, my selfish, self-protecting ways.  I wanted to stay in God’s will and honor my mother through to the end of her life.  I also, naturally, wanted to remain in God’s will for my marriage.

James 1:2-4 says,  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  Pure joy?  Oh, I wondered sometimes how I could possibly feel joyful.

As God continually desires to grow us in His garden, the roots grow deeper into His soil, hitting rocks and tree roots, those trials and tests.  It is our reaction to these tribulations that give us the telltale sign of our step-by-step relationship with God.  Our faith in God to bring us through these trials and our willingness to allow Him to grow us to be more like Christ builds the perseverance…hanging in there: close to God, in an honoring manner, trusting Him at every turn, a close and growing relationship with Him.  This relationship depends upon having open eyes, ears, and hearts.  We need His wisdom and He tells us to ask.  We certainly need it in this particular period of our lives, but truly in all periods, don’t we?  James 1 continues,  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  Those who doubt should not think they will receive anything from the Lord; they are double-minded and unstable in all they do.  Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. (verses 5-9)

He will develop us, mature us, complete us … in His time.  We must stay close to our Teacher, spend time in His Word, and bend our knees before Him.  As we face trials, we can be purified in these fires.  We can become more valuable in God’s economy.  He can use us as His giver of care to the precious one He appoints for us.  He is able to guide us as we are willing to listen to Him, our Lord.  He can reshape our lives from ungodly to godly, from not being Christlike to being a reflection of the beauty of Jesus, and to glorify Him in all we do and say.

James 1:12:  Blessed are those who persevere under trial, because when they have stood the test, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Some positive aspects that caregiving can offer:
• A closer relationship with God
• Trust in God
• A sense that others are watching your faith in action
• A more mature faith, purified by testing

• The ability to face and handle negative emotions

• Healing of previous hurts, especially involving family fallouts

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9

Let us stop here and ponder: asking for God’s wisdom, about the trials and testing that you are going through in your daily caregiving and how they might lead you to have more perseverance.  Think about God’s ways versus ours.  Think about James 1 as well.  What is God saying to you?

Father, we ask You to come to us in this garden and sit beside us on the bench where we are, weary and worn out.  Father, you know the task of caregiving we hold in our hands.  You know the one we care for.  He or she is Your child as are we, Father.  We feel so weary some days that we wonder if You are even in the vicinity.  Yet, we know You are.  You are everywhere, our Omnipresent God.  We trust You deeply, Father.  Walk down this path with us, giving us wisdom so that we can care for our precious loved ones, or for those we care for as a professional caregiver.  Father, please teach us how to take care of ourselves, better care of our bodies, our minds, and our souls.  Build us stronger spiritually that we would depend upon You for everything. Everything. You are our Refuge and our Stronghold.  Guard our souls and deliver us; Do not let us be ashamed, for we take refuge in You.  Let integrity and uprightness preserve us, For we wait for You. (Psalm 25:20-21) We ask all in the Name of Jesus.  Amen. 

 

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